Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Study on Revelation

I would like to begin a study on the book of Revelation.  Too often, this book is overlooked as too obscure or hard to understand to be of any use.  However, it is a treasure trove of wonderful news from God!  True, it is an apocalyptic book meaning that it was written in symbolic language such that those who knew what the symbols meant would easily understand.  It was written to provide comfort to the people who were undergoing Roman persecution so any interpretation of its symbology must be made in the light of the question, "What comfort does this interpretation provide for the persecuted people to whom it was written?"  More on this as we go.

Before we start, we must understand some of the basic apocalyptic symbols which were used by its author John.  First, the numbering system.

  • 1 - symbolizes the idea of unity or independent existence
  • 2 - symbolizes strength, confirmation, or redoubled courage or energy
  • 3 - the symbol for the perfect divine
  • 4 - symbolizes the perfect world
  • 5 - Not used as symbol.  Man was considered fully rounded if he had all five digits on each of his limbs.  Thus the number 5 was doubled to 10 to symbolize completeness
  • 6 - Used as a number to symbolize that which was evil as the number fell short of the perfect number 7.  A man was assigned a 6 if he met defeat when victory was in his grasp.  Ultimate or perfect evil is thus 3 6's, 666.    
  • 7 - The perfect world (4) and perfect divine (3) when added together give the number 7 which symbolizes the perfect completeness through union of heaven and earth.
  • 10 - symbolizes completeness.  When raised to the 3rd power (1000), it indicates perfect completeness
  • 12 - If the perfect number for the world (4) is multiplied by the perfect number for the divine (3) the result is 12.  Thus this was a perfect number which referred to organized religion.
  • 3 1/2 - When the number for perfect completeness (7) is cut in half, it equals 3 1/2.  This expressed the idea of the imperfect, the indefinite, or the incomplete during periods of turmoil or trouble
Many thanks to Kirk Session, Joel Tinnel, and Robert Sholl for the source material for this study.  The guide for the class "Notes on the Revelation" is one of the best I have ever read.